The threat of economic peril and civil unrest heightens the need for a review of access control and other physical security features at multifamily properties. After years of declining crime rates in cities nationwide, the latest FBI statistics show that motor vehicle thefts rose 6.2% in the first six months of 2020 over the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, arson offenses increased an alarming 19.2%.
Integrated Physical Security For Apartments Gives Criminals Tough Targets
In the quest to bolster rental security services, especially as COVID-19 and high unemployment continue, rental property management should consider these essentials in making their value-added property improvements and putting their operational strategy into motion:
Upgrade and maintain physical security barriers
Integrated physical security guards gain the upper hand when a multifamily property effectively employs fences, strong locks, bright lighting, and unobstructed landscaping. It’s important to keep up the appearance of all these elements.
The “broken windows theory” long ago established the link between neighborhood disorder and serious crime. Vigilance does not excuse heavy-handed policing tactics, and well-trained security officers will treat tenants and guests respectfully. But a maintained building and premises present a tougher target for hardened criminals and a more attractive choice for prospective tenants looking for attentive service.
Entrances and exits should be in clear sight and good working condition. Doors off the beaten path especially might benefit from penetration-resistant frames, security hinges and hardware or break-resistant glass. Signs that portray an active video surveillance system or onsite security officers offer a simple yet effective form of physical deterrence, provided they are also kept free of damage and graffiti. No intruder wants to see a sign that warns of a 24/7 apartment security company, prosecution and/or self-risk if they make an unauthorized entry onto the premises.
Utilize access control technology
Video intercoms and cameras have long kept multifamily housing secure. But a number of new high-tech tools have advanced what rental property management and security companies can do together. In a survey by RentPath, the No. 1 amenity renters want – ahead of hardwood floors or a local coffeeshop – is gated access (35%). App-controlled door locks come in close behind, seen as a plus for 1 in 4 apartment dwellers.
Meanwhile, the biometric controls we’ve become used to with smartphones can now provide an added layer of physical security. Eye, hand, and fingerprint scans can control access to common areas such as the garage, lobby, lounge or fitness center, as well as elevators or restricted areas. Thermal imaging can also detect security threats or individuals in vulnerable areas, while intelligent video uses machine learning not only to spot objects in a field of vision but also to track unusual activity spikes.
Understand the key ingredients of effective video surveillance
While smart cameras, motion sensors, and alarms offer a first line of defense in apartment security, security guard surveillance offers the most effective deterrence and fastest incident response. A uniformed security officer provides a strong physical presence, sending the message to strangers and criminals that someone is watching.
Should a crime occur at a multifamily property, an on-site security service can respond to security technology alerts or suspicious behavior much quicker than law enforcement or public safety personnel. That’s especially true when guards can request instant backup from their security company’s area patrols.
Undertake regular security audits and drills
Top-notch apartment security does not exist in a vacuum where real estate management can simply “set it and forget it.” Offenders will always look for new vulnerabilities, and something as simple as a change of seasons may introduce other risks: Hot, dry weather increases the chance of fire, for example.
Make sure tenants know exactly what to do in any emergency. Rental management companies should leverage cyber security and have technology devices checked periodically – especially computers – to make sure they haven’t been compromised or tampered with. Remember here that the threat may originate from half a world away. Hackers can render a security system useless or compromise tenants’ banking or other personal information.
Security Officer Safeguards Strengthen Relationships
As new security threats come to light, pivot immediately to make sure you’re covered. Integrated physical security guards will play a critical role as the rental manager’s eyes and ears to recognize spikes in suspicious activity, even in the neighborhood. (Often, the most effective security guards live in the community they patrol.)
The best integrated physical security guard service brings tenants into that feedback loop. Always listen to tenants and invite their input. They can suggest ways to improve integrated physical security for the apartment community that protect their peace of mind and your bottom line. Ultimately, tenants who feel safe at home are more likely to follow apartment rules, renew their leases and contribute to a rental asset’s long-term stability.